How to Trigger Size Gains Every Workout



by Kyle Arsenault T-Nation


Here’s what you need to know…

  • Three things cause muscles to grow: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage. You need all three to build muscle optimally.
  • Perform only three big exercises per workout. For each you’ll use sets of strength-focused work (5 x 5), size focused work (4 x 10), and pump work (3 x 20). In the second half of the plan, you’ll change the set/rep scheme to go heavier.
  • This is a 4-week program divided into 2-week cycles. It can be repeated again after a deload week.


The 3 Mechanisms of Muscle Growth
Three things cause muscles to grow. The problem is, most people leave out at least one of them, leading to slow gains and frustration.


To maximize muscle growth, the three key mechanisms that set the stage for hypertrophy are: mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and what most people think of as “muscle damage.” If you really want to pack on muscle, you need to stimulate all three.


Overview:  Advanced, Full-Body Training
This training plan takes care of all three muscle growth mechanisms on each and every training day.

  1. You’re going to train the whole body every workout. Each day will have one lower body exercise, one upper-body pushing exercise, and one upper-body pulling exercise. So, only three exercises per workout.
  2. On each exercise, you’ll go through three different rep ranges to completely exhaust the motor units targeted. For example, on the squat you’ll do 5 x 5 for pure strength, 4 x 10 for hypertrophy, and then 3 x 20 as pump work. All three mechanisms for growth will be taken care of.
  3. For each exercise, you’ll first complete all the heavy strength sets. So you’ll do 5 x 5 (5 sets of 5 reps) for the lower body exercise, then the upper-body pushing exercise, and finally the upper-body pull exercise.
  4. On the next round, you’ll do 4 x 10 for the same three exercises, completing all four sets before moving to the next movement.
  5. On the final round, you’ll do 3 x 20 for each of the three exercises.
  6. On each round, weight is reduced in order to train through the higher rep brackets. This ensures that the musculature targeted in each session receives sufficient tension, metabolic stress, and structural damage, along with plenty of volume, to induce maximal growth.


Yes, this is tough, but keep in mind that this program is meant to be a short-term hypertrophy blitz. Also, you’ll have an off/recovery day between each workout, training every other day. Obviously, your diet, rest, and workout nutrition need to be on point.


The Exercises

Day 1

  • A1 – Squat  (Back Squat, Box Squat, or Front Squat)
  • A2 – Incline Bench  (Barbell, Dumbbell, Wide Grip, or Close Grip)
  • A3 – Pull-Up  (Regular, Neutral Grip, or Wide Grip)


Day 2

  • A1 – Deadlift  (Conventional, Trap Bar, or Sumo)
  • A2 – Flat Bench  (Barbell, Dumbbell, or Floor Press)
  • A3 – Inverted Row  (Suspension Row such as TRX or Fixed Barbell)


Day 3

  • A1 – Reverse Lunge  (Barbell Front Squat Grip, or Dumbbell)
  • A2 – Overhead Press  (Barbell, Dumbbell, or Landmine Press)
  • A3 – Chin-Up  (Regular, Close Grip, or Rings)


Cycle Split
The weeks are split into two phases to ensure that you’re using progressively heavier weights throughout the four weeks.


Weeks 1-2
Exercise Sets Reps

  • A1 Squat 5, 4, 3 5, 10, 20
  • A2 Incline Bench 5, 4, 3 5, 10, 20
  • A3 Pull-Up 5, 4, 3 5, 10, 20

Remember, you’ll do 5 sets of 5 for squats, then 5 sets of 5 for inclines, then 5 sets of 5 for pull-ups. Then you’ll repeat the sequence with the next rep scheme (4×10), and finally the last rep scheme (3 x 20.)


Weeks 2-4
Exercise Sets Reps

  • A1 Squat 6, 4, 3 3, 8, 15
  • A2 Incline Bench 6, 4, 3 3, 8, 15
  • A3 Pull-Up 6, 4, 3 3, 8, 15


Now we’re going to change the set and rep ranges. First, go through A1, A2, and A3 for 6 sets of 3 reps. Follow that with 4 sets of 8 reps for each exercise. Finally, finish off the session with 3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise.


How Long Can I Stay On This?
The four-week cycle can be repeated twice for a total of eight weeks.


Deload for a week after completing the first four-week blitz. Also, switch exercises for the second 4 weeks, such as going from a conventional back squat to a front squat, etc. After eight weeks it’s smart to go back to a more traditional approach for at least 6-8 weeks before performing another blitz.





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